2016: The Year of the JRPG?

FFXV_key-art_TGS2014-noscale

While it’s only a few months away, it’s hard to imagine that 2015 is almost over.This year has been pretty amazing for gaming. With amazing hits like Metal Gear Solid V, Bloodborne, and The Witcher 3 out already and the prospects of Fallout 4 looking very bright. With that said, there’s one genre that while having some love this year is certainly not the star of the show. But with recent delays and release date announcements, 2016 is looking to be its year. Love or hate it. the Japanese Role-playing Game is still an important genre in the minds of gamers and is shaping up to have an excellent 2016.

The JRPG has gone through something of a renaissance in the last couple years, after experiencing what could be summarized as a stagnant period of growth.  That’s not to say it wasn’t for lack of trying, but there was clearly some self-reflection that the genre needed to do to figure out what gamers really wanted. The following games; which are expected to come out next year, are an attempt to not only revitalize the JRPG landscape, but redefine their respective franchises.

Persona 5

Originally scheduled to be released Winter 2015, Persona 5 was recently delayed to Summer 2016. But despite my disappointment with the news, the gorgeous new gameplay trailer more than makes up for the longer wait time. Persona 5 appears to take a lot of what we are familiar with when it comes to the Persona franchise, but is at first impression spinning them on its head. There’s something about Atlus games that just oozes cool, and this one appears to be no exception. Can’t wait.

Final Fantasy XV

If we want to talk about long wait times, then FFXV takes the cake. This game wasn’t even supposed to be the 15th instalment in Square’s flagship franchise, it was just supposed to be a spin off of Final Fantasy XIII. Announced back in 2006 as Final Fantasy Versus XIII, FFXV has had a development period of about ten years, if not longer. But since the rebranding of the game from spin off to main series, the game’s development seems to have picked up a lot of steam and is expected to be released next year. The demo alone was worth getting Type-0 HD (which was in its own right a solid game), and I can’t wait to finally get my hands on the final product, even if it’s terrible.

Bravely Second: The End Layer

Ok, so you know how I was talking about how the JRPG was going through a renaissance, well Square Enix’s Bravely Default shows that sometimes the best way to innovate is to go back to basics. Despite some issues with the end game, Bravely Default has made a name for itself in becoming more than just an FF spin-off. The sequel was released this year in Japan and is expected for a western release in 2016. No details on when in 2016 apart from a vague announcement, but I can’t wait to get back into the world and play with the job system I love so much.

Illusionary Revelations # FE

Disclaimer: That is the translation of the title from Japanese as of writing, I doubt that’s going to be the localized title.

Back in 2013, Nintendo announced that the minds Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem would be collaborating on a game for the Wii U. As two of the most beloved franchises of all time, it sounded too good to be true. But apart from that announcement we really didn’t hear much for two years. Then, in April 2015 we finally got our gameplay trailer. I don’t think it’ was what anyone was expecting. Still, it looks like a ton of fun and definitely has more a persona vibe to it than fire emblem. It will be interesting to see what influences are used where. With a western release date of 2016, only time will tell if this collab was worth the wait or was a bad mix of ideas.

There are still a couple JRPG staples (Xenoblade Chronicles X, Tales of Zesteria to name a few)  due out before years end ,and tons more in addition to the ones I mentioned due out next year. Hell, maybe we’ll get Kingdom Hearts III, then we’d really be set. There was a lot of speculation that the JRPG was doomed to die out a couple years ago, but to me it seems like there’s still place in people’s hearts for it. Perhaps 2016 is the year when the JRPG truly shines once again.


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